The following day at school, Analo kept her head down. Everyone was still talking about what happened at the match, but she felt hope again.
She had never seen her father so emotional. He had surprised her. She had never spoken to her parents like that and it must have touched his heart. Her mother would need more convincing though.
Mrs Kholi walked in while Analo’s classmates were mimicking Analo’s mother storming onto the pitch waving the brown envelope.
“Why are you making noise? Don’t you have textbooks to read? Next week you will be writing a control test. This is what you will need to know for the test.” Mrs Kholi began to write on the chalkboard.
Analo could see Lilitha out the corner of her eye. How could she have betrayed her and told her mom she wasn’t going to tutoring? But at the same time … Analo had to admit she knew that the truth would have come out eventually. It always did.
That afternoon Analo was back in the after-school tutoring programme.
“Welcome back, Analo,” Thulani said to her. “I spoke to your father and he says that you probably won’t be doing Physical Sciences for matric but if I could help you to pass this year and continue to help you with Maths that would be wonderful. Hopefully you won’t leave us again.”
“She won’t. Not after what happened yesterday,” Lilitha said. Other learners laughed.
“I won’t, bhut’Thulani,” Analo said, ignoring those who were laughing at her. She had a lot to catch up on, but she told herself she was going to ask questions until she understood. At least Thulani was not like Mrs Kholi; he didn’t get tired of answering questions.
“No question is stupid and no questions are too many,” he assured them.
On her way to the taxis after the session she saw Linam running from the soccer field in her direction. “Ndilinde, Analo,” Linam called out, asking her to wait for him.
“I am sorry about what happened yesterday,” Linam said. “I just wanted to check how you are doing.”
“I’ll be okay, I guess. My parents say they will let me play if I do well in school. And … well I told them I don’t want to be an engineer and I don’t want to do Physical Sciences next year.”
“I was surprised – my father understood. Hopefully he will persuade my mother. You know she has been bragging to everyone about her daughter who is going to be a great engineer one day.”
“Well, now she can brag about her daughter who will be a great soccer player one day.”
Analo felt like hugging him.
“If you need help, I am available,” Linam smiled.
Analo gave him a hug, “Thanks, Linam. See you tomorrow. I have to start studying for the test.”
“Ok, cool. Tomorrow then.” Linam gazed at Analo for a moment before heading back to the field.
Three weeks later
Mrs Kholi brought the marked test scripts to the class. She had arranged the test scripts from lowest to highest as learners expected.
“Lubabalo!” Mrs Kholi began, calling learners to pick up their scripts.
“Nomsa!” Mrs Kholi continued, calling several names before she announced: “Analo! Well done mntwan’am. You have really improved.” Mrs Kholi handed the paper to Analo. She had passed.
“Well done.” Lilitha said it softly, but she said it. Analo couldn’t believe it.
At break Analo had to share the news with Linam.
“Congratulations! You deserved it.” Linam was happy for her.
“This wouldn’t have been possible without your support. Thank you, Linam,” Analo said.
“See you at soccer later?”
On the way back to class Analo saw Lilitha talking to a new boy in Grade 10. She was all smiles, and suddenly Analo knew things would be easier between them again.
When Thobela got home later that day, Analo gave him her test script. He looked at the script, together with her mother.
“Next week Wednesday, I am taking a day off. I am going to watch my daughter play soccer. After all – I was her first coach!” Thobela hugged her warmly. “And I invite you to come with me.” He looked at Nomalizo. She frowned … and then she couldn’t help herself smile as they looked at her expectantly.
“We are very proud of you mntwan’am,” Nomalizo said and Analo’s heart leapt for joy.
Tell us: How have the after school programmes benefited Analo?